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Monday, November 29, 2010

In The Name Of The Father

  When some of us were kids, we'd give the stinkeye to the squash being offered for supper. We'd be convinced  to attempt to consume the offending gourd after a reference was made to the starving children of Africa who were all over the new 24-hour news station.

  And aid did come to a lot of those kids, but with a price. Many of the relief efforts were spearheaded by Evangelicals who made sure that Christianist ideals were preached in exchange for food and medicine. It was a religious cleansing by force, one where food took the place of guns. The preacher men eradicated the "scourge" of ancestral beliefs with the blessing of much of the Western world.

  Evangelicals have really been stepping it up in Africa. In Christian Tanzania, a gay man can be imprisoned for life. In Zambia, constitutionally declared a Christian nation, lengthy sentences for this "perversion against nature" are the norm for both men and women. In Uganda, Christianity is the excuse for attempting to institute the death penalty. Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, and Botswana all use the bible to justify persecution and prosecution of gay people while those in officially secular South Africa can legally marry.

  It should come as no surprise really that everyone's favourite 1980's pet nation has adopted anti-gay measures. Ethiopia's anti-gay laws are rooted in doctrine held by their Prime Minister that is so severe that merely voicing opposition can guarantee incarceration.

  However, the dubious honour of producing the first homophobic attack of the week belongs to Ethiopia's southern neighbour, Kenya. Despite what Western right-wingnuts might tell you, Kenya is a Christian nation. And their  Born-Again Evangelical Prime Minister Raila Odinga started off the week by declaring that all homosexuals should be arrested, naturally causing panic amongst citizens. And they can be arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced to up to 14 years in prison. In the nation with a booming, free-market economy held up as a model of recovery, gay people can be incarcerated and you can chop off your daughter's bits on her 16th birthday to prevent her from becoming a slut.

  In the West, there is a huge anti-Islam movement. People are unjustifiably terrified of Muslim theocracies. But it's plain to see that all religions can be used to oppress when they become state policy, which very much includes the Evangelical Christian beliefs that many politicians adhere to. Western fundamentalists have destroyed freedom overseas and will do so here if we give them the opportunity. Secularism is not the enemy of liberty, religion is. It doesn't matter whether you pray to Jesus or Allah, if those beliefs are used as a sword against your nation and its people, democracy ceases to exist.

  I am thankful to live in a country where all folks are equal, where I can step out without fear of arrest, where I can be the person I was born to be. You can be a great person who lives in a great nation without being a member of a bigoted and brutal cult. Hate in anyone's name is still the same.

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